Sunday, 12 April 2015
A couple of weeks ago I was walking along the road when I heard the roar of an approaching unsilenced bike. I looked round and saw a bike that I hadn't seen an example of for at least 30 years..
In 1977, Laverda launched the 500cc Alpino twin. (Known as Zeta in the US). It was a modern, 500cc parallel twin , in a sporty, good handling chassis. Downside was that it wasn't any faster than a Honda 400 Super Dream, but cost more than a Japanese 1000cc bike. Needless to say, it didn't sell well and I've only ever seen one.
Laverda built a racing version of the Alpino called the Formula 500, which was very successful in its day. In 1979, British importer Slater Brothers, built a road going 'replica' of the Formula 500, and named it Montjuic after the racetrack in Barcelona.
The Montjuic was an Alpino tuned to 50 bhp, (rather than 44), with high compression pistons and sportier cams, an unsilenced exhaust, a small fairing and seat unit made in the UK by Screen and Plastics, and rear sets and low bars from Laverda's Jota model.
The result was a loud, frantic, uncompromising sports bike, that due to its very high price tag, was rare and exotic. Back in the 80s I only saw 3 or 4 of them on the road, plus a couple raced in the 500cc Production class at Knockhill racetrack (where they were completely outrun by the much faster Yamaha RD 350s.)